Forget the mall haul. The easiest way to get presents with presence is with the written word. Books can be found at local stories, discount warehouses or the most reliable (and least expensive) source, amazon.com. Christmas delivery guaranteed . . . even at the last minute!
Sue Grafton has done it again. “X” (Putnam, $28.95), the 24th novel in her critically-acclaimed alphabetical series is more than a well-crafted mystery: “X” marks the spot as it works its way into serious literature, filled with as much of Grafton’s trademark self-deprecating humor and her pulse-pound suspense.
Did you know that orchids can get jetlag? Frank Sinatra took a shower 12 times a day? There are 177,147 ways to tie a tie? The soil in your garden is two million years old? More fascinating trivia is crammed in “1,411 Quite Interesting Facts” (W.W. Norton & Company, $15.95). Do you know why we wait . . . everywhere? “Why Does the Other Line Always Move Faster?” (Workman, $14.95) provides tantalizing water color and cocktail party chatter about the surprising science and psychology (and sheer misery) of those quirky queues.
We are mad over “Mad’s Greatest Writers: Frank Jacobs” (Running Press, $30), the first installment of a series that celebrates the magazine’s parodist extraordinaires. Jacobs’ cutting political and satire, outrageous poetry and movie spoofs are magically maddening!
Norman Mailer and William F. Buckley, Jr., were towering figures who argued publicly about every major issue of the ’60s: The counterculture, Vietnam, feminism, civil rights, the Cold War. Behind the scenes, the two were close friends and trusted confidantes who lived surprisingly parallel lives. In “Buckley and Mailer: The Difficult Friendship That Shaped the Sixties” (W.W. Norton & Company, $28.95), historian Kevin M. Schultz delivers a fresh chronicle of the ’60s and its long aftermath as well as an entertaining work of narrative history that explores these extraordinary figures’ contrasting visions of America and the future.
The trend that began a new chapter in creativity? Coloring books for adults. A sampling that will color your world: “Harry Potter’s (Scholastic, $15.99); “Secret New York,” “Secret Tokyo,” “Birds & Butterflies” and “Wonders of the Sea” (Little, Brown and Company, $16 each).
For more than 50 years, Frederick Forsyth has written some of the best novel of suspense. Civil wars! Drug trade! Nazis! Assassinations! Finally, Forsyth tells the story of his remarkable life in “The Outsider: My Life in Intrigue” (Putnam, $28), filled with spine-tingling events that inspired many cases in his 15 novels.
Movie nights will never taste the same again with “Gone With the Gin: Cocktails With a Hollywood Twist” (Running Press, $15), an intoxicating gift for silver screen aficionados who prefer their martinis shaken, not stirred. The slim volume features 50 delicious drinks paired with sly commentary on history’s most quotable films, such as “A Sidecar Named Desire,” “Whiskey Business” and “Close Encounters of the Slurred Kind.” Silence of the Lamb Burgers, anyone?
There are 1,440 minutes in each day. Author, artist and naturalist Clare Walker Leslie suggests taking just three of those minutes to pause, look around and observe the world around you. “The Curious Nature Guide” (Storey Publishing, $14.95) offers an inventive series of guided prompts for initiating creative interaction with the strange and wild world of nature.
Where’s Penny Lane? Was there really an Eleanor Rigby? The answers and so much more can be found in “The Complete Beatles Songs” (Dey St. Books, $40), a newly updated edition of the Fab Four’s work, arranged chronologically by album. So why was Paul the walrus?